In my last blog we took a look at whether or not scripture supports the view of a rapture, or a catching away of the church, Christ’s bride. I believe we successfully showed that scripture does in fact support the rapture theory, and that the argument opposed to that view is very weak. So, where do we go from there?
Over the years I have heard people who believe in the rapture argue about the need to be watching for the time of Christ’s return for His bride. Some have argued that there is no need for Christians to be concerned about it, citing that “when it happens it happens”. They generally have the idea, as I did until recent years, that every Christian will automatically be caught up when He returns, which lends itself to a false sense of security when it comes to the rapture. After all, isn’t salvation a free ticket to the rapture? Well, not necessarily.
While it is nice and feels good to believe that all Christians will go up in the rapture, scripture points out, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, that this isn’t necessarily the case. Some have concluded based on Jesus’ parable of the sower that only 25% of Christians will make it to heaven, and that based on His parable of the ten virgins only 50% of Christians will go up in the rapture. Only God knows the percentage of those who call themselves Christians will actually make it, but the scriptures are very clear that just because one believes themselves to be a Christian isn’t enough. Jesus, Himself, tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that broad is the gate that leads to destruction, and narrow the gate and difficult the way that leads to eternal life. In Luke 13:24-30, Jesus also tells us to strive to enter in through the narrow gate for many will seek to enter but will not be able to. In Philippians 2:12-16, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and then goes on to mention how we need to become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the crooked world we now live in. Did you catch that? Paul is telling us to become blameless, and in Ephesians 5:25-28, we’re told that Christ is coming back for a church without spot, wrinkle or blemish.
Does this tell us whether or not it is important for us to believe in the rapture, much less whether or not we as Christians need to even prepare for it? I think it safe to say it is important for us to believe in a rapture, not only because the Bible points to one but also because a person can’t watch or prepare for one if they don’t believe in it. And, as we can see from the above scripture, it is important for us to be prepared for it when it happens, which could be at any moment.
On a number of occasions Jesus tells everyone who follows Him, to “watch and pray”, and in one instance, Luke 21:34-36, Jesus even tells us to “pray that you’re counted worthy to escape” all the things that will come to pass in the last of the last days. Why would Jesus tell us that if we will automatically be raptured up because we are Christians? In Revelation 16:15, in the midst of the judgments being poured out on mankind during the tribulation period, in what could be a “news flash” Jesus blesses those who watch for His return and keeps their garments.
In Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus tells us in relation to His return to watch, citing that the good master of the house would be watching and would not allow his house to be broken into. In Luke 12:35-40, we see Luke addressing the same thing that Matthew did, indicating that the master of the house would be watching to prevent the thief from breaking into the house. In both passages, in reference to His return for His bride, Jesus tells us to be watching for His return, and that it is a good master of the house that watches to prevent the house from being broken into by a thief. In Mark 13:32-36, Mark recounts the same words but adds emphasis to them at the end when he shows that Jesus said “watch!”. Apparently it is very important to Jesus to command us, His followers, to be watching. The difference between the good master and the bad one was the watching.
I mentioned that some believe all Christians will go up in the rapture, and that is a scary thing to believe. Some don’t take the rapture very seriously because they believe they will have another opportunity after the rapture to get to heaven. The problem with this way of thinking is that Jesus apparently knows it is not a time we are going to want to be here for, the tribulation period that is. Not only that, but what guarantee do you have that you would be able to or even have that opportunity? Jesus commented a few times that there would be those who “missed it” that would try and enter into heaven after the door had been shut, and that they were denied entrance. This leaves a lot of questions for those Christians that were like the foolish virgins and unprepared when Christ returns, questions that I would prefer not waiting to get an answer for. I say we just plan on making sure we’re prepared for His return and not gamble with eternity. How about you?
What does it mean to be watching and praying? I’ve written a number of blogs on the subject that I’m not going to get into right now, but let me briefly address that. Jesus indicated that we need to be watching for the signs of His coming for His bride, and that is essential. When writing on the parable of the ten virgins, I indicated that I believe the “midnight cry” mentioned in the parable is the fulfillment of the prophetic signs of His return and the end. Are you paying attention to the fulfillment of Biblical end time prophecies that point to His return, or are you just busy living life with the idea that it will happen when it happens? Also, when you’re watching for something, you are making sure you’re ready when that thing arrives. If you’re waiting and watching for someone to come pick you up to go somewhere, you’re making sure you are ready when they arrive, right? If you were not watching for them to arrive, you would probably be too relaxed to be ready on time, and if you were not ready they might have to leave you behind. While watching means to be watching, watching also means to make sure we are prepared for Him. Are we striving to become more like Christ in every area of our life? Are we learning to live by the Spirit, to die to the flesh and its many desires and cravings, and to allow Jesus to live in and through us? Are we seeking the forgiveness of others when needed, and are we forgiving others as He has forgiven us, which was unconditional and non-negotiable in His eyes? Are we guarding ourselves from sin and the worlds influence on us?
When Jesus tells us, in conjunction to watching, to pray and to pray that we’re counted worthy to escape that which is coming to the earth, I believe that humility has to be key. None of us are, or will ever be on this side of eternity, perfect. I may be wrong, but I believe what goes into us being worthy hinges on our heart and pursuit to please Him in every area of our lives. That doesn’t mean that we will have it all together and be perfect examples and witnesses of Him, especially since we are all at different levels of maturity and growth in our walk with Him. I believe the key is our desire and efforts to live for Him, doing what He’s called us to, taking the unpopular stands for Him, righteousness and the Kingdom, and sharing the Gospel with others. The fact is there is no “formula” for being worthy to escape that which is coming to the earth, but it instead rests on Him to make that determination, and it is up to us to pursue that in our lives with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So, in conclusion, I believe it is very important for us to not only believe in a rapture, but also that we live our lives preparing for it as a bride prepares for her wedding day. I’ve seen many a bride as she’s approaching the day of her wedding, no matter where she is at or who she is with, become almost obsessed with pleasing her groom and trying to prepare herself to be as pleasing to him as she can possibly be for that day. We are the bride of Christ, and are we just as driven to please and prepare ourselves for Him as a bride does for her groom? Just something to think about.